This free 5-step guide on how to start a blog in a day details the exact steps I took to start this blog (launched in April 2020) in ONE day! Fast forward to now, DWELL is home to over 100,000+ monthly readers where we get to share stories and cook delicious recipes together.
So you’ve decided to start a blog. Congrats!
That’s no easy feat – the first step is always to decide to do the thing – and you just did!
But now that you’ve decided to blog, you may be wondering: how do you actually start a blog?
These 5 steps are the exact steps I took – and I’m sharing them with you today!
Follow these 5 steps, and you’ll have your very own blog up and running in just ONE day.
Though of course, you’re free to take longer, if you’d like.
Ready to start?
1. Pick your niche
Here’s a tip: before starting a blog, really take some time to plan your blog.
Figure out what topic(s) you’re most passionate about, and research other blogs in that niche.
Ask yourself: Is this a topic I’m knowledgeable about? Am I passionate enough about this topic to be able to consistently write about it?
Once you’ve done enough research and self-reflection, really decide on a niche. For example, I chose the food blog niche, with an emphasis on easy ethnic recipes.
Now this doesn’t mean you can’t write about anything else ever. It just means that this niche is the primary topic readers can expect from your site.
Please keep in mind that this guide may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.
2. Choose a domain name
A domain name is also known as your blog name, or URL (your “address” on the web). Your domain name should reflect your chosen niche, specifically tailored to you.
For example, our domain name is https://dwellbymichelle.com.
I chose the name DWELL by michelle after reading the official definition of dwell: “to live in or at a specified place.” Whenever I cook, bake, or otherwise spend time in the kitchen – I truly dwell in that moment and savor every minute. So by naming my blog DWELL by michelle, I hope to invite my readers to also live in the simple moments as we journey the world through different recipes and stories together.
3. Set Up Your Blog Hosting
If you ask any successful blogger on the Internet, there’s a good chance they’ll tell you that their website is set up on Wordpress.org (self-hosted). This is not to be confused with Wordpress.com, which is a free blogging platform hosted on Wordpress’ servers.
If you want to start a successful blog, it is really important that you set up a self-hosted WordPress blog.
While WordPress.org itself is free, you do need to set up your own hosting to properly use the WordPress blog. Essentially, this means your blog needs to be “parked” on a server somewhere on the web.
You need to have a blog host in order to have a working blog.
For hosting, I now use Rocket.net. It’s crazy fast, and I love it. That said, it does come at a higher price tag.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend starting with Bluehost – which I and many other bloggers personally used in the beginning. Speaking from experience, they have helped me set up my own blog and troubleshoot any issues within minutes of me contacting – seriously phenomenal customer service!
Plus, they are one of the most affordable hosting services out there, which makes it the perfect fit for new bloggers. They also offer a FREE domain name for the first year of using Bluehost!
Oh, and they have a 30-day money-back guarantee too.
As an affiliate partner, Bluehost has offered a special offer for DWELL readers: get your blog hosting for just $2.95/month, plus get your domain name FREE for one year! That’s a steep discount from its regular $8.99/month cost.
Another option is to go ahead and purchase Managed Hosting, such as from WP Engine. While this is a bit on the higher price point, the upside of this option is you get access to 30+ premium themes, as well as higher performance and:
- 24/7 support
- Free automated migrations
- Daily backups
- Free SSL and SSH
- Advanced security
- One-click staging site
4. Set Up Your Wordpress Blog and Activate a Theme
Woohoo! You are one step closer to having a LIVE blog!
Now that you have the hosting and the domain name ready, it’s time to set up your actual WordPress blog – and make it look good!
You can easily set up your WordPress directly through your Bluehost dashboard. Don’t worry, they’ll walk you through the steps in easy-to-digest directions.
Installing A Theme
As you set up your new site, you’ll notice that your blog is automatically set up with Wordpress’ default theme.. but it’s pretty bland.
There are plenty of free and paid themes which will help make the blog look exactly the way you want your brand to embody.
Our current blog theme on DWELL is custom-made, but I started out with a pre-made theme from 17th Avenue. I used their Magnolia theme on my Seattle wedding photography website a while back and loved it.
If you purchased WP Engine’s Managed Hosting, I recommend you utilize your Premium Theme access in their library!
Of course, you can use any theme you’d like. Just keep in mind that free themes are typically not as optimized for user experience, and it often pays off to invest in a good theme.
5. Write Your First Blog Post!
Cheers! Your blog is now set up and you are ready to do write your first blog post.
You may be wondering: “but..what should I write about?”
Here are a several blog content ideas you can (and should!) publish on your first few blog posts!
- About Me: People like to see that a blog author(s) is a real person. In this section, write about you! Why did you start this blog? What do you believe? What are your goals? (click here to see mine for reference)
- Niche Content: It’s time to publish your first few recipes, stories, lists, and photos of the topics in your niche. Get excited, and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. You will get better as you learn! (click here to see my very first recipe!)
- Contact Page: Make it easy for your audience to get in touch with you, should they have any suggestions or questions! I recommend using a contact form to streamline all inquiries, and don’t forget to share your social pages!
Bonus Tip: If your goal is to monetize your blog, make sure that you have an accurate and well-written disclaimer page, as per FTC guidelines.
Additional Blogging Resources
- Ezoic Ad Network: When you’re ready to monetize your website, I recommend building enough traffic to get into Ezoic. Compared to Google AdSense, Ezoic just pays better. This is the ad network I used on DWELL before I moved over to AdThrive, and I cannot recommend it enough! From the customer service, the AI-driven ad placements, and overall better ad rates – I highly recommend Ezoic if you have around 10,000 monthly pageviews.
- ShareASale: One of my favorite affiliate marketing platforms is ShareASale! I personally use ShareASale to monetize my blog, and they offer tons of merchant programs you can apply to. This makes it easy for me to find the merchants who are the right fit for my audience. I have never promoted a product/service that I would never use (and I will continue to do so!), so having this large of a selection makes that process easy!
- SkillShare: this is a great place to grow your knowledge of web development, UX/UI design, creative writing, graphic design, and so many other skills that go a long way in building a great blog.
- Food Blogger Pro: this membership (led by none other than Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom from Pinch of Yum) is a must-have for beginner to intermediate food bloggers! Their instructional library contains over 350 easy-to-understand videos to help you accelerate your food blog journey. Check out their free guide here.
- Eb Gargano’s SEO Jumpstart Course: Eb’s course is a great place to start when you’re ready to learn more about SEO (which is so foundational in creating a high-traffic, profitable blog!)
- Tailwind: This tool is a lifesaver when it comes to managing my social media promotions. With Tailwind, you can schedule out Instagram posts and Pinterest pins ahead of time – and it even gives you your optimal posting times based on your audience. I joined with their FREE trial, and seeing how well it worked in driving traffic to my blog – I decided to continue with their paid service!
- Lasso: Get a FREE 14-day trial for this favorite affiliate marketing plugin using this link. No coupon code needed!
- Rank IQ: Get access to the EXCLUSIVE blogging software that helps me create SEO-optimized blog post outlines (in minutes!) using this link. No coupon code needed!
And that’s it! You’ve just started a blog – all in a day!
Now it’s time to continue writing and share a little bit more of YOU to the world.
Keep in mind that from this point on, blogging is hard work. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the hard work pays off – and it’s worth every bit of it!
I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
(but really, please send me your new websites – I’d love to give it a read!)
Cheering you on,
Copyright © All Rights Reserved. Content is written by Michelle Schmidt of dwellbymichelle.com.